Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

The gain in Spain starts mainly on the train!

The gain in Spain starts mainly on the train!

Mar 31st, 2008, 02:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 73
The gain in Spain starts mainly on the train!

Just back from a trip to France and Spain. We did an overnight train from Paris through Madrid to Seville. It was fabulous to see the countryside and there was a noticeable improvement when we got on the Renfe (Spainish)trains in Irun (Spain-France border). I want to sing the praises of Renfe. Great food, great service and very clean. We were in Preferente (1st) Class, so it was a great way to see the Spanish countryside and climate changes from coastal winds to plateau snow to balmy sun as we arrived in Seville on Easter Sunday!
beachies7500 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 02:25 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 15
Please give us more information on this trip. I am very interested in taking a train from Paris to Madrid. Thanks!
jcrummel is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 03:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,129
There is a sleeper train from Paris (depart 1945) to Madrid, or there is a train with couchettes and reclining seats from Paris (at 2311) to Irun which connects with a train to Madrid, arriving at lunchtime.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 05:42 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 656
Big kuddos for the great title. It really caught my attention. Now, on to the trip report please.
jdraper is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 75,935
The Pain in Spain was once Mainly on the Train

but yes RENFE or Spanish Railways is now amongst the leaders in europe in modern high-speed railways, with the Madrid-barcelona AVE route perhaps the fastest train in Europe at about 200 mph - if they ever get the teething problems worked out

That said i still believe IMO the SNCF runs a better overall and certainly more comprehensive system and i would not judge it on the older night train to Irun
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 09:28 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 73
As GeoffHamer says, there are two train possibilities overnight Paris-Madrid. Since it was Easter weekend, the direct sleeper train was booked up. We got the last two reclining seats on the train that went Paris-Irun (French-Spanish border)which was not conducive to good sleeping --zzzzsnoring all night around us!-- but was a fantastic opportunity to see the resort towns around the Bay of Biscay as the sun came up. Also, lots of snowboarders exited near the Pyrennes mts. (could see the peaks nearby). On Easter Sunday morning we traveled through ice-coated and snowy countryside to a cold and windy plateau land where Madrid is located. Beautiful scenery from the comfort of our window seat, even in tourist class seats.

The train was on time to Irun, but over an hour late arriving in Madrid, which means we missed our connection on the AVE to Sevilla. We had to pay for a new reservation on the AVE even though the train's late arrival caused the problem. The Renfe agent explained this was because SNCF had issued the original tickets. I would suggest allowing plenty of time to connect on to Seville or other points from Madrid if you do this "scenic route" train.

One travel detail that was helpful gleaned from a Fodorite prior to travel: Transferring from Chamartin Station where the Irun train arrived to the high speed AVE out of Atocha Station can be done by buying a ticket on the Cercanias train that leaves at frequent intervals and takes about 15 minutes between the two stations. The tricky thing was finding the Cercanias train departure point. It was not well marked and we made good use of the Information booth and ticket sales agents to ask -- Here is where my Spanish from college helped tremendously!! Those we spoke to understood very little English in the station. "Donde esta' el tren Cercanias?" or "Donde esta'" ...a multitude of other things we hunted for in Spain could often be answered with pointing or drawing on a map.

It was an adventure that we enjoyed, even with the confusion at times. Much better than just following a tour guide if you have that adventurous spirit and don't mind making some mistakes!
beachies7500 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 09:48 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 4,074
Hi jcrummel, some years ago we took the night hotel train, left from Chamartin station in Madrid and arrived next morning at Austerlitz Station in Paris only a short taxi drive to our hotel.
In those days the dollars was strong, we traveled in Gran Clase which is the best available. Everything was included, all meals which were real good,a good dinner with fresh fish, a continental breakfast and also some drinks before dinner I think. THe little cabin had everything including a full bathroom so we took a shower in the morning and arrived a the hotel ready to hit town.
In all it was avery pleasant experience , but now with so many inexpensive flights between European cities I do not think if I would take a train again most likely I would fly.
Graziella5b is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
Love the subject line =D>
FainaAgain is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,204
Yes, I love the title too, but wanted some menus!
artlover is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2008, 05:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 73
Artlover ~ Sorry, I didn't keep any of the menu cards they gave us prior to the meals. Wines and soft beverages were served. Hot meals were tasty tapas-type egg, chicken, veggie-based Spanish omelette and quiche food (We did 3 breakfasts and 1 sandwich "Bocadillo" evening meal with the cured and savory jamon iberico on great bread. They served fresh baked crusty rolls at each meal - and came around to offer more rolls later! Yum...
beachies7500 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:08 AM.